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Boston-Area Adjunct Faculty Launch Citywide Push to Form Union
“We say yes.”
That was the consensus of a group of over 100 adjunct professors from more than 20 Boston-area colleges who’ve launched an effort to raise standards for their profession and win a voice in the future of higher education by forming a union with Local 888. The public kickoff for the Adjunct Action campaign to unionize contingent faculty across the Boston metro area was held at the JFK library last month. “When a university is asking $50,000 in tuition from students, one wonders where the money is going and why it’s not going into instruction,” said Deborah Schwartz, an adjunct professor in the English Department at Boston College. “There’s a systemic problem when the majority of students who walk into their first year English class are taught by adjunct faculty.” Part-time and non-tenure track faculty are now the majority of faculty at our colleges and universities and their numbers continue to increase. At the same time, revenues and tuition have increased steadily over the last two decades while spending on instruction has declined – and it’s adjuncts and their students who are suffering as a result. Contingent faculty typically have no job security and low pay that forces adjuncts to string together jobs at multiple colleges and universities to make ends meet. Many adjuncts do not have access to basic facilities like office space and receive little support for research or scholarship. These conditions make it increasingly difficult for adjuncts to do their best for students. Continued on page 3.
Students from Emerson College show their support for adjunct faculty members across Boston who are seeking to form a union with Local 888.
Local 888 Members Key to Marathon Response
works employees,” said Rodrigues. City of Watertown employee and Local 888 Executive Board member Lori Moran said union members there played an essential role. “Thanks to our great Watertown dispatchers and DPW workers who worked behind the scenes to help bring this nightmare to an end,” said Moran. Local 888 has made a contribution to One Fund Boston, which will help individuals most affected by the bombings. “We are inspired by the sacrifice of so many union members and other workers who rushed to aid the injured, protected the public or pursued the perpetrators at great personal risk,” said Rodrigues.
rom police dispatchers, to emergency medical personnel, to crisis counselors, Local 888 members played a key role in the massive response to the Boston Marathon bombings. Brenda Rodrigues, secretary-treasurer of Local 888, praised the dedication of these members, many of whom work behind the scenes to ensure that first responders are able to do their jobs effectively. “We commend Local 888 members who work for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the City of Boston as police dispatchers, members who work for the Public Health Commission, others who work as counselors for the Department of Neighborhood Development, and many personnel for the Town of Watertown who serve as dispatchers and public
Dear Sparky: I’ve got a little bit of a family situation. My problem is my cousin who, thanks to a steady diet of Fox News, has decided that unions are bleeding our country dry. At our last family-get-together he referred to me and my wife, a school teacher, as “takers” and even threw in something about us “feeding at the trough.” Other than avoiding family functions, is there anything I can say to this guy that will shut him up? Had It in Haverhill Dear Had It: Avoiding family functions would be my choice, but then you should see the litter I come from! Unfortunately the kind of mean-spirited trash-talking that your cousin engages in is all too common these days. Why if I didn’t know better I’d have to conclude that it wasn’t Wall Street but teachers and public service workers who were responsible for driving our economy into a ditch. The reality is that there probably isn’t much you can do to change your cousin’s mind. What you can do though is point out how extreme his position is. For example, I’m assuming that he drives his car on publicly maintained roads, relies on the security of public services like police and firefighters, or enjoys the occasional fishing trip to waters that aren’t chock full of chemical runoff. One other tip: I guarantee you and your wife aren’t alone at feeling uncomfortable with this fellow’s extreme point of view. Before the next family meet up rolls around, why not check in with other family members and ask for their support? Either that or give him the wrong address...
International Workers Day
When: Wednesday, May 1, all day Where: Chelsea, Everett and Revere Dozens of labor and communitybased organizations will march and rally from Chelsea, East Boston, Everett and Revere to support immigrant and low-income workers throughout Eastern Massachusetts. For more information, visit www. chelseacollab.org
City of Boston Employees: Share Your Concerns
When: Thursday, May 9, 11:30AM–2PM Where: OLR Conference Room, 6th floor, City Hall Come and meet Local 888 field representatives Mari Cooney and Madeline Garcia at the first of a regular biweekly meeting and discussion. For more information, call the Local 888 office at 617-241-3300.
SEIU Local 888 Executive Board meeting
When: Wednesday, May 15, 10AM–5PM Where: SEIU Local 888 union hall, 52 Roland Street, Charlestown, MA
Workplace Bullying Workshop
When: Thursday, May 16, 7-8:30PM Where: Brookline High School Cost: $6 Local 888 member Henry Jung leads a workshop on this important topic including defining workplace bullying and discussing the many resources available to help stop it. For more information, visit www. brooklineadulted.org
Join the Women’s Committee
start Join us for a potluck dinner to help cus of a Women’s Justice Committee/Cau s, idea r you g brin e SEIU Local 888. Com the in n me wo share your concerns as our union and workplace and discuss , tion draft mission. For more informa om, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com. to 8:00PM When: Wednesday, May 8th, 5:30 52 Roland St. , hall on uni Where: SEIU Local 888 Charlestown.
Local 888 Ten Year Anniversary Celebration
When: Saturday, June 22, all day Where: Bay Pointe Country Club, 19 Bay Pointe Drive, Onset, MA Local 888 is 10 years old and it’s time to celebrate! All members and their families are invited to attend a free barbecue with games and rides beginning at 12PM A golf tournament starts at 8AM, entry fee is $300 per foursome. Stay tuned or visit www. seiu888.org for details.
Poet and Local 888 member James Carty poses with his book, Live, Learn, Love. Carty, who helps with children’s programming at the Brockton Public Library, has been writing poetry since he was 11 and hopes to study creative writing at UMass.
Continued from cover.
SEIU Local 888 President Mark Dello Russo welcomed the adjuncts, telling them that “Local 888 already has members at both public and private colleges so we are really excited to help spearhead this campaign. Adjuncts deserve to be treated with respect!” Attendees and panelists linked the problems facing contingent faculty, including low pay, lack of job security and little or no access to benefits, to the “corporatization” of higher education. There is an “increasing corporate mentality of educational institutions,” said one attendee.
Poetry in Motion
The kickoff event for Adjunct Action drew more than 100 adjunct faculty members from 20 campuses.
Students from Tufts, Northeastern and Emerson attended the event in a show of support for hardworking adjunct faculty, who told stories of staying late and working well beyond the three course hours for which they are paid to write recommendations and provide guidance on papers and coursework. Todd Ricker, the organizing director for the Adjunct Action, posed a question to the gathered adjuncts as they prepared to engage in discussions about the reasons to organize on their respective campuses. “Do you want things to change or do you want things to remain the same?” he asked.
For more information, visit www.adjunctaction.org
ocal 888 member James Carty can’t remember a time that he wasn’t writing. The 18 year old, who has worked at the Brockton Public Library since he was 15, says that creating poetry feels as natural to him as breathing. Until recently though, Carty felt too shy to share his passion with the world. “It was just something I kept to myself,” says Carty. Since the release of Carty’s first volume of poetry last year, the secret is officially out. Not only is Live, Learn, Love on display at the main library and its branches but a reading is in the works. “The whole library knows now,” says Carty, who helps out with children’s programming and just about anything else that his colleagues at the library need. Carty graduated from Brockton High School last year and is now studying at Massasoit Community College but hopes to transfer to UMass Boston and focus on creative writing. “That’s really my dream, to be able to study this thing that I love so much.” Carty says that he got into poetry via his first love: music. As a teenager he was fascinated by hip hop artists who used verse to convey their feelings and experiences. His goal was to capture that same essence of real life and all of its challenges but without the musical accompaniment. “I listen to a lot of hip hop and R and B and I love figuring out how the artists tell a story. That motivates me to do the same thing.”
Stay in the loop and up-to-date by ‘liking’ Local 888 on Facebook. Find us at: www.facebook.com/ SEIULocal888
Live, Learn, Love is available on Amazon.com and Xlibris.
If you or someone you know would like to be featured in the Spark write to spark@ seiu888.org.
Done Deal in Dennis
Town of Dennis employees recently ratified a new three year contract with 2% wage increases each year. They also won an increase in longevity, an allowance for protective boots (previously this benefit was not provided to supervisors) and an annual sick time buy back of up to five days. Great job by the bargaining team, Steve Buss, chapter chair, Chad Contonio and Tom Sisson, for negotiating a good deal for all.
gain in accordance with the law before such work is removed in the future. At a hearing, union representatives argued that not only had the transfer resulted in a significant loss of pay to Local 888 members but that the union had never been given the opportunity to bargain over the issue. The DLR announced last month that it had found probable cause to issue a complaint against the BPD. The DLR will now hear the full case.
Chelsea Soldiers Home Announces Annual Performance Awards
The annual Performance Recognition Awards were recently announced by the Chelsea Soldiers Home. Award winners for 2013 are acting food services supervisor Daniel Chapman, Gilberto Perez, Yu Xie and Rosa Matias of the housekeeping department, and the Blizzard of 2013 Snow Removal Team. The awards are presented by the Soldiers Home to thank the outstanding employees who demonstrate excemplary leadership, strong commitment and an extraordinary work ethic. Congratulations to all for receiving this honor.
Town of Dennis employees Chad Contonio, negotiator and Steve Buss, negotiator and chapter chair.
Agreement for Boston Public Health Commission Clerks and Techs
Local 888 members who work at the Boston Public Health Commission (Clerks and Techs Chapter) ratified a new contract on March 28. Latanya Williams, who is a steward and also served on the negotiating team, says that the agreement was a long time coming. “We’ve been without a contract for over two years. We’ve worked hard to get our members better benefits. I feel we have a stronger contract than we have had in the past.” The vote was unanimous. Congratulations to the clerks and techs for their perseverance.
Rosa Matias with Senator Elizabeth Warren and a friend at an immigration rally in Boston. Matias, a housekeeper at the Chelsea Soldiers Home, was recently recognized for her service there.
Win in Wachusett
BPD Chapter’s Unfair Labor Practice Charge Upheld by Labor Department
Last fall, the Boston Police Department unilaterally transferred the duties of driving the crime scene lighting truck from Local 888 employees to the Boston Police Patrolmen’s union. Thanks to a recent Department of Labor Relations (DLR) decision, the BPD may have to return that work to Local 888 members, and bar-
Applied behavioral assitants employed by the Wachusett Regional School District (Holden, Paxton, Princeton, Rutland, and Sterling) ratified a one-year extension of their current agreement on April 22. The school district agreed to move everyone up one step, which results in about a 3.5 percent increase. Members will also be able to use up to five sick days to attend to a family illness. The contract for approximately 50 members was ratified unanimously.